A Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari Regarding The Looters At National Assembly By Charly Boy

Dear Sir: A belated welcome back home. I trust you’re taking it easy, because of old age no dey lie. We even hear say you dey go back to continue your treatment; it is well sha.

uring the 2015 election, a lot of foreign observers analyzed and sympathized with Nigerians because the choice we had was between the devil and the deep blue sea. Even I had lost hope in the leadership of my beloved country, and I remember telling Nigerians that what was needed to get us out of the mess we find ourselves, is a benevolent dictator: One whose sole aim would be to round up all looters and destroyers of this great country and deliver us from The vile, evil and wicked politicians/cabals that have enforced this kinda poverty, hunger, hopelessness on my people, with impunity.

Funny, many thought I was talking about you. But a lot had gone wrong in our country for too long, and I am aware that it would take a long time to purge our country of habits that has hindered our collective growth as a people.

Sir, your re-entry into the leadership of this country was greeted with mixed feelings.

While some Nigerians felt you are the man for the job, others felt you belonged to the status quo and nothing will change. I know that Nigerians will need to bite the Bullet before the healing process can start.

Although your administration has made a lot of goofs in some areas, on the corruption fight, nonetheless, I clap for you small because now we can see how overwhelming corruption has become. So, I and my fellow frustrated Nigerians are with you on that. I am aware that the corruption fight cannot be fought only by you or a few well-meaning people in your kitchen cabinet; some of whom we the people don’t even trust. This is also the people’s fight if we all must see a better Nigeria. Like you said; “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us.” Corruption has for long empowered the criminal minority to terrorize the silent majority because many Nigerians see corruption as a victimless crime. But that is exactly what breeds all sorts of anomalies bedeviling the nation today. Our mumu don do.

Frustrated Nigerians know that this fight must start from the National Assembly. I am aware that you have had a running battle with some of the blackmailers, scammers, 419ers, certificate forgers and the riffraffs in the National Assembly.

I even hear say you don block some of the loopholes wey dem dey take chop money and how dem no dey get the kin awoof money dem dey chop before. Baba you bad o!!!!!!

However, how can this fight be intensified because my fellow frustrated Nigerians are aware of all the intrigues going on at the National Assembly, and frankly, we have had enough of this rubbish and jagbagantis. Abi Na till we die or till we craze?

Mr. President, Sir, it’s time to show your bone face.

After all, Obasanjo dealt with many of them in the house: senator Evan/Evans Enwerem, senator Dr Chuba Okadigbo, senator Adolphus Wabara, Salisu Buhari on the House of Reps as their Speaker in 1999. Even our gentleman former President, Goodluck dealt with House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.

Oga mi, you must decisively clamp down on these rogues before they finally ruin our lives. You can’t go wrong since many of my fellow frustrated Nigerians are down for the biggest showdown. Isn’t this the main reason why many voted for you? To liberate Nigeria from crooks, criminals, and gangsters occupying positions of power!

We can’t continue like this anymore.

Our mumu don reach final bus stop. As a matter of urgency we must cut down on the excesses of our legislooters. We can’t indefinitely continue to fund such a padded good-for-nothing expensive senate when Nigerians are poor, hungry, angry and hopeless. Because the battle for the heart and soul of Nigeria has begun.

We can’t endlessly waste Nigeria’s revenue on a bunch of certificate forgers, armed robbers and riffraffs. Na Wetin?

It’s time to formulate our kind of democracy, because the Oyibo way no go work with us especially with these criminals. Let the people decide if we should scrap the Senate or drastically tone it down to a more manageable level.

Baba, boys wan Para o!!!!!!!!

Best regards

AreaFada Charly Boy.

President of Frustrated Nigerians.

‘I Belong To Everybody And Nobody:’ Our President Said It, We Didn’t Get It By Abimbola Lagunju

When President Muhammadu Buhari famously said on May 29, 2015 that he belonged to everybody and to nobody, the public went into a frenzy of interpretations of his philosophical words. Clearly, what he said was a code. It meant something that we did not understand and which he did not bother to explain. How could he, our Sai Baba, who belonged to us during the campaign and to whom we belonged during the voting process, now come out and say publicly that he belonged to nobody after winning the elections? Something was quite wrong from the onset. We didn’t get it. Did these coded words apply to his family, his political associates, to the known sponsors of his victory, to the alliance of political parties that came together to ensure his victory or to the public? It was anybody’s guess. Whether he has acted on or is acting on those words is also anyone’s guess. As with many other important issues haunting our lives, some Nigerians made a sick joke of the President’s declaration and everyone moved on.

Mr. Buhari also said he was going to allow all the other arms of government do their jobs while he would focus on his. He was neither going to interfere nor influence decision-making either at the Senate or the House of Representatives. He acted on these words. He let the election process of the Senate leadership pervert itself to produce the current leadership to the indignation of Nigerians. Nigerians expected some reaction, some political maneuver to undo this aberration, but this never came. Mr. Buhari let it ride. And what we have been seeing on the television are joint prayer sessions with the leadership of the Senate, smiles, hand-holding, hilarious laughter and visiting between the President and the Senate leadership here in Nigeria and in London. Further, the President appears to be indifferent to the press exposures of the reprehensible actions of some members of his kitchen cabinet with links to the Senate leadership. It appears that some sinister pre-prepared script is being acted out by the combo of the Senate and the Executive. It is difficult to think that what we are seeing are spontaneous dramas. What we have been seeing in the past two years is antithetical to the persona of whom we thought we voted for.

Our President said, “I belong to everybody and to nobody!” This is not original. It belongs in Jean Jacques Rousseau’s treatise on the Social Contract. Mr. Buhari must have read it severally after he lost the previous elections. And he acted out some of the clauses of the Social Contract in order for him to win the 2015 elections. Hear Rousseau: “…as men cannot engender new forces, but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power, and cause to act in concert. This sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together…….. each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.” Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong in forming alliances to overcome an obstacle or to reach an objective. What can be very wrong is if the objective is personal at the expense of a trusting nation rather than for common good or if the alliance is with people of questionable character.

Our President did not need to tell us that he belonged to everybody and to nobody. It was not necessary. We already have a binding social contract with him in our constitution. So he could not possibly be referring to the Nigerian public that voted him in. Who then was he talking to? To whom was he quoting Jean Jacques Rousseau in his public discourse? Mr. President needs to explain this to Nigerians.

That Mr. Buhari formed an alliance with other political parties to oust Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP is a fact in public domain. But we do not know what other alliances the President engaged in. That Mr. Buhari seems to have parted ways with other political parties has been widely reported. What about these other hidden alliances? Recent belligerence of the Senate leadership (despite the exposures of their moral baggage) towards the person of Mr. Buhari and his seeming helplessness tell a big story. It is terrifying that this belligerence is not based on any principles but on trivia that border on demand for respect from the President. Rousseau says “there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself….” In other words, the Senate leadership demands respect as per the conditions of an agreement between equals. What is the nature of this contract that seems to render our president a ghost of the supposed man of steel we voted for? This has nothing to do with our Constitution or with separation of powers; our Constitution does not allow for trivialities.

The Social Contract between the President and the people of Nigeria far outweighs any other contract that the President might have engaged in, in the course of seeking the presidency. The people take precedence over alliances. Mr. Buhari has to boldly move out of unholy alliances that tie his hands while the people are still solidly behind him. What History will say of you as the President is much more than winning a second term.

The president should come out and tell us that “He belongs to everyone – to us, the people” and leave the VIP nobodies to lick their wounds.

I hope President Muhammadu Buhari reads this.

 

Abimbola Lagunju is an author. You can reach him at [email protected] and read his articles at Afro Point of View.

The Monster Buhari Failed To Destroy By Charles Ofoji

It has now turned out that the monster President Muhammdau Buhari failed to destroy is becoming his nemesis.

For a president, who coasted to power on the promise of change, I had watched the inexperience at democratic governance or naivety exhibited by Mr. Buhari when he thought he was boasting, saying that he was not interested in who emerged as leaders of the legislature.

“There is due process for the selection of leaders of the National Assembly and I will not interfere in that process … I am prepared to work with any leaders that the House or Senate selects….It doesn’t matter who the person is or where he or she is from,” Buhari had said in a statement signed by Malam Garba Shehu, then Director Media & Publicity APC Presidential Campaign.

Buhari’s stance then had dethroned logic. How could a president say he is careless about who controlled an arm of government that has the power to rubbish his presidency or even cut his reign to pieces with the sword of impeachment?

Then I wrote in my blog: “Sir, If you wanted to show statesmanship when you refused to influence who emerged leaders of the National Assembly, you only ended up displaying naivety. It is common practice, even in civilized democracies, for a president or prime minister to influence directly or indirectly who emerges as speaker of parliament.

“You promised change and should know that you are no longer a dictator. It therefore means that you need good laws to deliver on your promise. Now how can you effect change with a man like Bukola Saraki as Senate President? How could a man who is one of the most people who profited from Nigeria the way it is, allow you to change the status-quo?

“Honestly speaking, from the moment you looked away and allowed Saraki to become senate president, I lost hope in your promise of change. Guilty or not, the fact remains that he has lost moral legitimacy. There is too much finger-pointing, which makes his moral baggage over-weight. If Saraki had any iota of honor, he would have long resigned his office. Rather he prefers to put the office of the senate president through ridicule. So Mr. President, as a leader of your party, if you are still serious about change, you must do all to get rid of this man as the leader of the Nigerian legislature.”

Buhari’s political naivety by allowing Saraki to emerge and remain as senate president is now his greatest undoing.

As things stand, the two men from the same ruling party, APC, are chasing different goals. Nothing shows that the ruling party has a commanding majority of the two houses of parliament. It has become increasingly embarrassing for the president in his failure to get simple bills passed or his appointees easily endorsed by the legislature controlled by his party.

The case of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stands out. Twice Buhari sent his name to senate for approval as substantive chairman and twice the Saraki-led Senate rejected him – on the flimsy excuse of a negative security report. Notwithstanding the fact that Magu has done fairly well as EFCC chairman. Though there is the accusation in some quarters that he is an apostle of selective justice.

In any case, critics of the members of the National Assembly say they are hell scared of Magu, who in my assessment, has prosecuted an uncompromising war against corruption.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once famously lamented, “The National Assembly is largely an assemblage of looters and thieves.”

Mr. Obasanjo, speaking at the public presentation of the autobiography of Justice Mustapha Akanbi in Abuja in 2014 said: “Apart from shrouding the remunerations of the National Assembly in opaqueness and without transparency, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors and ministries in two ways.

“They do so during visits to their projects and programs and in the process of budget approval when they build up budgets for ministries and departments, who agree to give it back to them in contracts that they do not execute. They do similar things during their inquiries.”

He added: “Corruption in the National Assembly also includes what they call constituency projects which they give to their agents to execute but invariably, full payment is made with little or no job done.

“In all this, if the executive is not absolutely above board, the offending members of the National Assembly resort to subtle or open threat, intimidation and blackmail. When the executive pay the huge money, normally in millions of dollars, all is quiet in form of whitewashed reports that fail to deal effectively with the issues investigated.”

The truth is bitter. Whether the members of the National Assembly like it or not, majority of Nigerians, including this writer, share Obasanjo’s view.

So like the mockers of the legislators say on social media, how can rats allow a cat (Magu) to become the anti-corruption czar?

It is hard to speculate which game Saraki is up to now that he sees President Buhari weakened by failing health. Whatever his calculations, Saraki’s Senate, with the suspension of the former Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, can no longer be said to be a democratic house of parliament. The great son of Alabama, Hugo LaFayette Black put it succinctly when he said: “Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the words they speak or write.“

Ndume’s only sin was that, as a representative of a senatorial zone, he had called for the investigation of the allegations against the Senate President bothering on non payment of import duties on an SUV and certificate forgery leveled against Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi-West.

Ndume could have made the demand for two good reasons. First, being a matter of public interest, Nigerians have the right to get to the bottom of the matter. And secondly, maybe, he wanted the two senators to be cleared of the accusation so as to preserve the integrity of the Senate – if there is still any left.

The purported suspension of Ndume is the height of impunity by the Saraki-led Senate. It is an infringement of the right of free speech of Mr. Ndume as a senator and that of the constituents he represents in the Senate. I will encourage him to seek legal redress.

The Saraki-led Senate has been insulting Nigerians with its series of illegalities and pettiness. So much that the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) described the senators as being childish and irresponsible. In this era of summoning anyone and everyone, even for merely coughing, the Senators have also summoned the learned jurist.

The Nigerian Senate under Saraki has lately become a source of embarrassment to Nigerians. Sagay was so miffed with the behavior of the lawmakers that he wondered how people of such character could occupy the highest legislative office in the country? “Nigeria is finished,” he concluded.

I heap the blame on Buhari. He failed to take control, as the leader of the ruling party, from the beginning. And, up till now, he is still not in control. Going back to Magu for example, if Buhari had been in control, the so-called DSS negative security report on Magu would have first being seen by him before it gets to the legislature. Unless, he is playing a game of chase with Magu.

Saraki was the monster Buhari failed to destroy politically when it was rearing its ugly head and when it was politically expedient. Now the monster has gone full circle and destroying everything in sight – its maker not spared, talk less of those who tolerated it.

Also not spared is whatever is left of Buhari’s change agenda. It has also become a big threat to our democracy.

Buhari Impressed With Tinubu, Says his ‘a Great Leader’

President Muhammadu Buhari has poured encomium on former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, describing him as a great leader.

President Buhari said Tinubu’s foray into politics 25 years ago whose has “ushered in a better understanding of building consensus to achieve historical feats, like unseating an incumbent government.”

The Nigerian leader made the remarks in a congratulatory message to Tinubu as he clocks 65 years on Wednesday. A colloquium on small scale businesses in honour of the politician will take place in Lagos today.

Tinubu and Buhari  belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC), now Nigeria’s ruling party.

In a statement by Femi Adesina, the media adviser, President Buhari joined all members of the APC, political and business associates of the Asiwaju of Lagos, his friends and family, in celebrating another milestone in the life of Tinubu.

“As he turns 65 years, the President believes the Asiwaju raised the bar for many political leaders across the country as a two-term governor of Lagos State, and also bequeathed a style of leadership that completely altered the landscape of the commercial capital. ”

Buhari recalled his pleasant and intellectually enriching encounters with the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom over the years and said the nation has benefitted a lot from the personal sacrifices, political experience and intellectual foresight of the APC chieftain, and still stands to gain more.

Budget Padding: Prosecute Indicted Officials, SERAP tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the arrest and prosecution of principal officers of the National Assembly who were indicted in the 2016 budget padding case.

The group’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale,in a recent statement said “Corruption in the budget process takes away and erodes much needed resources for public and developmental purposes. SERAP is seriously concerned about the level of secrecy surrounding the budget process in the National Assembly, which has invariably created a breeding place for alleged corruption.

“Secrecy in the National Assembly has clearly gone beyond the level permitted by law, and apparently served as the incubator for corruption, while depriving the Nigerian people of a much-needed opportunity to cleanse the National Assembly of persistent allegations of corruption.

“SERAP has received very credible information from multiple sources that the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have now completed investigations into the allegations of padding of the 2016 budget, completed their reports, and indicted some principal officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Also, the accounts of some of the principal officers containing allegedly illicit funds have been frozen, and that the case files for the prosecution of those indicted are ready.”

“SERAP has also received credible information from whistle-blowers about ongoing attempt by some principal officers of the National Assembly to allegedly steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by your government as ‘zonal intervention’ (also known as constituency projects) in the 2017 budget.

“SERAP is also aware of the alleged risk of corruption involving the $2.5 budget oil bench mark increment which comes up to about N131 billion. The N131 billion will be appropriated to either reduce deficit or increase expenditure or both but unless the spending of the funds is closely monitored and scrutinised, the funds may be diverted, mismanaged or stolen.

“SERAP is also concerned that deception in the budget process will continue unless Nigerians are granted access to inspect the budget process and other activities by the National Assembly. SERAP strongly believes that Nigerians have the right to know what their lawmakers are doing so that they are able to appraise their work and hold them to account.”

Buhari to Visit Sambisa Next Week

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to declare open this year’s Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship in Sambisa forest in Borno.

Maj.-Gen. David Ahmad, the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army headquarters, disclosed this at a news conference on the championship in Maiduguri on Friday.

Ahmadu said the event was slated for March 27 to 31 at the former stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgents.

He said that the championship was part of the training activities of the Nigerian Army aimed at sharpening marksmanship of its personal.

“The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship otherwise known as NASAC is part of the training activities scheduled for 2017.

“It is a championship among the formations of the Nigerian Army, the objective of the event is to sharpen the marksmanship skills of the army personnel,’’ Ahmadu said.

He said: “All formations of the Nigerian Army will be competing with the best carting away the prestigious Chief of Army Staff trophy.’’

Ahmadu said that the championship was aimed at consolidating on the total defeat and routing out of Boko Haram terrorists from their operational headquarters in camp zero in Sambisa forest.

“Furthermore, the championship will also mark the commencement of the ongoing plan to move speedily and make the Sambisa forest general area safe for habitation.

“It is also to make the place an area for the Nigerian Army training activities,’’ he said.

Ahmadu said: “To this end provisions had already been made for the reopening of more roads, construction of culverts and bridges by army engineers to facilitate easy movement to the general area.

“There is no gain saying that the championship is set to another epoch making event that will further emphasise the Nigerian Army efforts and resolve in meeting its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation,’’ he said.

NAN

Buhari Gives N-Power Graduates Extra N4,500

President Muhamamdu Buhari has approved an additional N4500/monthly to all the 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries to purchase a computer tablet or i-Pad which would be loaded with different applications that would further enhance their skills.

The payment for the device would be stretched for 20 months, with the subsidy by government covering the repayment in some months.

Bank of Industry, BoI is financing the acquisition of the tablets.

According the Mr. Laolu Akande, the SSA media in the Vice President’s office, each N-Power graduate, after being verified would select his choice of device amongst nine different BOI pre-approved vendors.

Akande made known this new dimension of the N-Power programme while giving an update today.

Repayment ranges between N3,000 to N6,700 monthly.

“Therefore in some cases the N4500 device grant would cover the full monthly deduction cost while in other cases the graduate authorises BOI to deduct the additional differential cost from their monthly stipends depending on the device chosen”, said Akande..

The Vice President’s spokesman also noted that 6 of the 9 BOI pre-approved vendors are indigenous local brands in pursuit of the Buhari administration’s push for Local Content.

He said almost 100,000 graduate N-Power beneficiaries have completed their orders for the devices, adding that the Bank of Industry is in charge of effecting the orders made.

“The plan is to conduct the order of the devices in two batches of 100,000 each, one after the other”, Akande added.

According to Akande, at the last count 149, 669 Nigerian graduates of the 200,000 engaged by the Federal Government under the N-Power Volunteer Corps are now collecting their monthly stipends of N30,000 monthly having been physically verified and deployed across the 36 states and FCT.

He said the beneficiaries on government pay roll have been physically verified and deployed, while their bank accounts have also been matched with the Bank Verification Number.

The SSA said that, in December, about 112,475 of the N-Power graduate beneficiaries received the N30,000 monthly stipends, and the number came close to 150,000, both in January and February meaning about that number are now receiving their up-to-date stipends from the N-Power Volunteer Corps.

Akande also noted that now beneficiaries across the 36 States of the Federation, and the FCT have been verified, totaling the 150,000 figure. He said the balance 50,000 of the 200,000 beneficiaries engaged by the FG are those who so far could not be paid for various reasons.

This includes those who were disqualified during verification on the basis of age-over 35, and inadequate academic qualification. The N-Power is for university, polytechnics and College of Education graduates only. There were also some of the selected 200,000 who were ‘no shows’ meaning they simply did not report for verification at all.

Others who could not be paid were those whose personal information details were faulty, including those whose marital status had changed. There are also those who used different names and differing personal information. And lastly there are also those whose banking information simply do not match with their BVN banking records.

In the case of those whose marital status have changed, Akande explained that their information is now being updated through the various States and FCT Focal Persons and then they would be represented for payment. He also disclosed that those who have sought redeployment to other states are among the 50,000 and in such cases, they will be considered alongside those to be replaced from the N-Power waiting list where necessary.

The process for the replacement of those who did not show up and those disqualified would also resume shortly to bring the number back to 200,000 for the first batch of the 500,000 promised by the Buhari administration.

Thoughts On President Buhari’s Medical Advice To Nigerians By Pius Adesanmi

From what I’ve seen thus far, President Buhari’s return is being framed as a short convalescent respite in Abuja before he returns for “further checks” in London. Until I hear differently, I have to take it that this is the true state of things.

Whatever the case may be, I say welcome to him and I wish him God’s speed in the journey to recovery and full health. I also pray for strength for his immediate family as they continue to take care of him. I was in their shoes for 22 years, from 1985 to 2007.

I know the toll it takes on one to have to take care of one’s loved ones when they are ill. The Yoruba have a proverb that those taking care of the sick are the sick. For the 22 years that my mom, sisters, and I had to take care of my father, we were sick too. The President’s immediate family needs our prayers and support.

That said, there is also a familiar narrative of human callousness and lack of respect for the dignity of the indisposed. No matter how weak and frail the human bodily frame of President Yar’Adua was, some people somewhere needed the political symbolism of his appearance in Abuja for their own selfish purposes. No matter how weak and frail the human bodily frame of Danbaba Suntai was, some desperate people needed the political capital of his return to Jalingo.

The same primitive sentiments by the same forces who lack fundamental human decency and are genetically incapable of thinking Nigeria beyond their pernicious narrow and personal interests are now at work. However, unlike President Yar’Adua and Governor Suntai who were parachuted in barely conscious, President Buhari has agency and is a player in this unfolding scenario. He is responsible for his own decisions.

The trip and prolonged stay were already so badly handled. What is the purpose of a convalescent cameo return at such unbelievable costs to the tax payer? The proper, dignifying thing to do in the circumstances is to allow a full return to health in London before returning or to return to Abuja only when the President’s health has reached a stage where treatment could continue at home.

For me, continuing the management of his health in Abuja – we pay an awful lot annually for that State House Medical Centre – would not reduce the damage done by the fact that he went on a health safari at all or the way the whole thing was managed – deceiving Nigerians initially, dishing out information parsimoniously as if it were a privilege, bullying and blackmailing Nigerians for asking questions – but it will at least not compound the situation with an expensive cameo convalescent return to Abuja.

Premium Times has given an in-depth account of President Buhari’s statements to his cabinet and some governors in the State House upon his return. Premium Times reports that the President weighed in on education and health. I agree with the President on education, albeit with my own amplification. On health, I sincerely hope that Premium Times has either mis-reported the President or quoted him out of context. However, until there is clarification from the Presidency, I will go with Premium Times’s account.

According to Premium Times, the President stated that we must take the education of our children seriously. Says Premium Times:

“Mr. Buhari said the world was fast changing, and more efforts must be made to equip the younger generation with relevant skills to compete in the global economy.”

I agree in toto with the President here. However, in addition to educating our children to be active participants in the global knowledge economy, we have a more urgent task to overhaul the delivery of the humanities and the social sciences in Nigeria. We need an urgent reinvestment in critical thought. We need to make two semesters of philosophy compulsory in every Nigerian tertiary institution.

That way, we will start to produce citizens who are not only capable of feeling insulted in their civic essence by the way that this whole Presidential health saga has been handled but who will be interpellated to ask tough and hard questions and understand such as their right and duty to Nigeria.

If we listen to President Buhari and educate our children properly, the hordes feeling privileged that the President has deigned to bless them with a convalescent return and disturbing the peace all over social media will understand that after the human sentiment of euphoria and relief (I was quite relieved seeing the President), they have an even bigger duty of asking tough questions as his employers. And they have a duty to themselves to completely ignore any bullying by Citizen Abobaku.

Beyond education, Premium Times reports that President Buhari has other advice for Nigerians. He has health advice for them. According to Premium Times:

“President Buhari noted that the government would continue to discourage Nigerians from self-medication, urging those with discomforts to ensure they get proper diagnosis and doctor’s prescription for drugs. He lauded the quality of treatment he got during his medical vacation.”

I don’t know what to say to this if Premium Times reported the President’s statement correctly. All I will say is that people in power and government and Citizen Abobaku who bullies his fellow citizens to support them unquestionably at all times should try from time to time to show that they have human feeling and that they are capable of empathizing with the downtrodden in Nigeria.

President Buhari is not the only person that is sick. Psychologically and emotionally, our citizens are also ill because they have been so badly beaten and battered. We should be mindful of this and be compassionate, not add to their emotional and psychological stress.

A Nigerian has probably not been paid his salary in the last 8 months. He cannot feed. He cannot pay his rent. He cannot pay his children’s school fees. He cannot afford the ramshackle health facilities we have in Nigeria. The doctors are on strike anyway because they are not paid.

In all of this, he has borne your own medical trip to London because you traveled at public expense. Then you return from London to advise him to “get proper diagnosis and doctor’s prescription for drugs”. And you also praised the quality of the medical treatment you got abroad?

Is this a joke? Is this blindness to irony? Is this callousness? Is this lack of empathy? How exactly is a Nigerian supposed to feel about this very strange medical advice from the President? Where exactly is a Nigerian supposed to get this diagnosis and prescription drugs from? London?

A citizen who reads that he or she is being advised to get medical care in crumbled and ramshackle clinics and hospitals by a President just returning from a publicly-funded medical safari in London is also sick because such a citizen has just been emotionally and psychologically violated.

So when we are bullying Nigerians to empathize with the President, let us also remember that the victims of our bullying are human and deserve empathy, much more empathy than the President.

President Buhari Arrives Nigeria

President Buhari has returned to Nigeria, after 51 days of vacation in London, United Kingdom.

Femi Adesina, the special adviser on media and publicity said President Buhari’s plane landed in Kaduna well after 7.am today in Kaduna, debunking earlier reports that the President flew in at about 4.am.

“We are now at the helipad at the Aso Villa awaiting his arrival from Kaduna. The flight will take about 40 minutes”, said Adesina in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

In Kaduna, President Buhari was received by deputy governor. Barnabas Yusuf Bala, after the President’s plane landed at the VIP Wing of the 401 Flying Training School of the Nigerian Air Force, Kaduna, at about 7.40 a.m.

An excited Kaduna governor, Nasir el-Rufai said on Facebook:

“The President is back. He has landed safely in Kaduna and received by Acting Governor Barnabas Yusuf Bala and senior KDSG officials. The government and people of Kaduna State are proud to receive our First Citizen back to his home to face the task of rebuilding Nigeria. Alhamdulillah. Jumaat Mubarak to everyone”.

Adesina announced yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari will return to Nigeria today.

Buhari left Nigeria on 19 January for a vacation in London and was scheduled to return to work on 6 February.

During his visit to UK, he also said he would conduct some medical checks.

However, a day to his resumption, he requested for an extension of his holiday, following the recommendation of his doctors that he wait for further tests and rest.

According to Adesina, President Buhari expressed appreciation to teeming Nigerians from across the country, and beyond, who had prayed fervently for him, and also sent him their good wishes.

NAN

Nigeria to Cut Stake in Oil Assets Under Buhari’s Growth Map

Nigeria plans to sell portions of its oil assets to help fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s four-year program to lift the economy from its worst slump in a quarter century and create 15 million jobs.

Buhari proposes in a 2017-2020 economic blueprint to reduce the government’s stake in joint-venture oil assets and other holdings. Selling them will “optimize their efficiency and reduce fiscal burden on the government,” according to the proposal posted on the Ministry of Budget and National Planning’s website. Lenders including the World Bank are awaiting the plan to conclude funding facilities for Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.

The proposed plan targets growth of 7 percent and inflation under 10 percent by 2020 by increasing oil output, opening up new farmland and boosting investment in power, roads and ports to diversify revenue. The economy shrunk 1.5 percent in 2016, the first full-year contraction since 1991, mainly due to a drop in prices and output of oil, the nation’s biggest export, and the resulting foreign-exchange shortage. The naira weakened after the central bank removed a peg in June, increasing the prices of imports from fuel to food, contributing to the inflation rate rising to the highest in more than a decade.

Selling some oil assets “will help unlock needed resources, so it’s positive,” Razia Khan, head of Africa macro research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said by email. “But we will have to look at the timeframe over which this is done. Should we expect a slew of quick privatizations, or will this be drawn out?”

Unlock Resources

Nigeria has an average 55 percent stake in joint ventures run by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA, which produce about 90 percent of its crude. The government also owns 49 percent of Nigeria LNG Ltd, a multibillion-dollar company which operates Africa’s biggest liquefied natural-gas plant. The government has also hinted it may award concessions for airports.

The government aims to increase oil output to 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020 from a low of 1.6 barrels daily in the 2016 third quarter when militants bombed pipelines. This is forecast to boost government revenue by 800 billion naira ($2.53 billion) annually. Some of the additional funds will be used to revamp domestic refineries to raise capacity to a level where the country will turn into a net exporter of refined fuel.

‘Hidden’ Debt

The West African nation raised $1 billion in a Eurobond issuance last month and will probably tap the international bond market for a second time this quarter to raise $500 million. Nigeria will re-balance its debt portfolio to increase the proportion of foreign financing and “make arrangements to pay off hidden federal government debt,” according to the plan.

The government wants to issue bonds and debt certificates for 2 trillion naira to pay outstanding bills to contractors, ministries, departments and agencies, and state governments, Budget Ministry spokesman Akpandem James said by phone from Abuja, the capital. The plan refers to “hidden” debt because some of the liabilities have to be verified before they are paid, he said.

Nigeria will “sustain a market-determined exchange rate” and monetary policy will be “aligned with other aspects of the federal government’s macroeconomic program,” according to the plan.

The central bank has intervened since August to keep the naira at about 315 against the dollar, after abandoning the peg of 197-199 per dollar. The regulator has increased its key lending rate to a record 14 percent to fight inflation, despite calls from Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun to loosen policy to support the economy. The currency was 0.2 percent weaker at 315.5 by 6:18 a.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital.

Power Prices

The government will introduce cost-reflective power tariffs to encourage investment in a sector that’s heavily indebted and struggling with cash flow.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing said the government would, from January, guarantee 702 billion naira for state-controlled Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc to pay for electricity it receives from generating companies and sells to distributors. Nigerian power distributors paid only 27 percent owed to generators in 2017, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The plan proposes reforms including increasing value-added tax on luxury products to 15 percent in 2018 from 5 percent and improving compliance to add 350 billion naira to annual revenue collections.

At least 100,000 hectares of additional arable land will be irrigated, farmers will have better access to fertilizer, a staple crop-processing zones authority will be established, and the Bank of Agriculture will be recapitalized to increase loans. This is part of the nation’s strategy to boost production to meet domestic demand and export products including rice, cashew nuts, ground nuts, cassava and vegetable oil by 2020.

The plan “ticks a lot of the key boxes, and correctly identifies the problems that they have,” John Ashbourne, an economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd. said by phone. “The real question is, will they follow through with this?”

Bloomberg

Buhari phones Obasanjo, Gov. Bello

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, via telephone from London, congratulated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

On the same day, he also spoke with Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state and thanked him for all his support.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President confirmed President Buhari’s conversation with Obasanjo in Abuja on Sunday.

According to the president, who is on medical vacation in London, a time like this provides opportunity to reflect on Obasanjo’s invaluable roles and contributions to the unity and cohesion of Nigeria, the brotherhood of all Africans, as well as peace and amity over the globe.

President Buhari described the former president as “a true citizen of the world”.

While recalling their days in the military, President Buhari said: “”Those of us who served under you in various capacities recall a man with boundless energy, with razor sharp mind, and one who does not suffer fools gladly. Working with you was a school in itself, and the lessons learnt are worth their weight in gold.”

“”Chief Obasanjo wished President Buhari good health, adding he stands together with him in prayers, so that he can return soon to continue the good work he is doing for the country.’’

Chief Obasanjo was onetime Nigeria’s former military ruler (1976 to 1979) and democratically elected president (1999 to 2007).

President Buhari had earlier spoken with Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi state.

A Government House statement issued in Lokoja said that Buhari, who made the call in the evening, spoke with the governor for some minutes.

The Director General on media and strategy to the governor , Mr Kingsley Fanwo, who signed the statement, said Bello received the call in Lagos on his way back from Abeokuta, where he attended the inauguration of Obasanjo Library.

“ The President thanked the governor for his support and his leadership qualities.

“He told the governor that he was observing rest and will return very soon to continue his assignment of providing purposeful leadership to the nation,” Fanwo said.

He said Bello received the call in the presence of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Ahmed Imam, some members of the house, commissioners and top government functionaries.

NAN